Iowa Public Television


Second Mad Cow Case Confirmed in U.S.

posted on June 24, 2005

In Washington, USDA confirms a second U.S. case of mad cow disease. At the port, the U.S. talks tough with China over trade. And at the hive, efforts to bring more "workers" to the fields creates a buzz in the bee business.

Hello, I'm Dean Borg. Mark Pearson is off this week. America's cattle producers are no strangers to volatile markets. After posting record highs in 2003, cattle prices declined in the wake of America's 1st confirmed case of Mad Cow disease.

But U.S. beef consumption never wavered, and cattle prices rebounded quickly. This week the beef industry was dealt another setback. On Friday, the Agriculture Department announced the 2nd confirmed case of Mad Cow Disease in the United States.

USDA stressed that the animal in question did not enter the food chain. Nevertheless, the announcement sent shockwaves through the industry as officials attempted to reassure the nation that the beef supply is safe.

Second Mad Cow Case Confirmed in U.S.

It is news no one wanted to hear. Late Friday afternoon, after the markets closed, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said the final test results from The Veterinary Laboratories Agency in England, confirmed a case of BSE in an animal first tested last November.

The USDA said the animal in question was a "downer" cow and, therefore, it did not enter the food chain.

John Lawrence, Iowa State University Economist, Ames, Iowa:"We don't know how well consumers understand the facts about the safety of the product. If we go through like we did with the initial finding of a North American beef in Canada or the U.S. cow then I feel fairly confident that we may have a short period of time with some market uncertainty but the consuming public feels fairly confident we'll come back to the product."

As Market To Market reported last week, the USDA's inspector general ordered the tests after a third round of tests on the animal came back positive. An initial so-called "rapid" test seven months ago on three animals came back inconclusive. Each was followed up by what is called an IHC test ... and all came back negative for BSE. A third, called the Western Blot returned results: 2 negative and one positive.

This is the second confirmed case of BSE in the United States. The first case was confirmed in December of 2003, in a dairy cow imported from Canada.

USDA says more than 388,000 animals have been tested for BSE since 2004 and until this week all have ultimately proven to be negative for the disease.

Tags: agriculture animals beef diseases food safety livestock Mad Cow markets meat news USDA